The Newman government’s anti-bikie laws are being tested in the country’s highest court, with bikies hopeful “common sense” will prevail.
Bikies will have to wait months to learn whether their High Court challenge to the Queensland government’s anti-bikie laws succeeds.
The contentious legislation came under the scrutiny of the full bench of the High Court in Brisbane on Tuesday.
The laws were introduced last October and prohibit three or more bikies gathering in public and impose lengthy prison sentences on gang members convicted of crimes, among other measures.
Lawyers for Hells Angel member Stefan Kuczborski, who is the face of the challenge, argued the legislation was constitutionally invalid and breached notions of equal justice.
Outside court, Mr Kuczborski’s solicitor Zeke Bentley said a decision was realistically months away.
“There’s a lot of people out there under association charges who are under a cloud,” he told reporters.
“They don’t know if they’re going to jail for six months, so for that reason I hope it is quick.”
Mr Bentley pointed out the laws prevent his client attending the hearing for fear of breaking the law and attracting a six-month jail term.
“The very people who are affected by this hearing can’t come … and that’s a classic example of how draconian these laws are,” he said.
The anti-bikie laws were introduced after a public brawl involving dozens of gang members erupted in a Gold Coast restaurant and spilled onto the street last year.
In court barrister Ken Fleming QC, for Mr Kuczborski, explained to the seven High Court judges how a person charged with affray could be jailed for up to seven years – instead of the normal one year – simply for being a participant in an organisation deemed criminal.
“We say this result offends any meaningful conception of justice,” he told a packed court.
Queensland solicitor-general Peter Dunning QC said an innocent person could easily defend the charges.
The federal government, NSW and the Northern Territory back the laws, while representatives from SA, Victoria and WA are due to address the court on Wednesday.
Mick Kosenko from the United Motorcycle Council of Queensland, which is funding the appeal, said if the states succeed bikies in parts of the country could face the same harsh restrictions.